Fantasy Football 2012: Five Late-Round QBs Who Can Help Win It All

Jonathan Pilley@@omnicomicContributor IIAugust 20, 2012

Fantasy Football 2012: Five Late-Round QBs Who Can Help Win It All

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    Everyone would love to be able to get Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady or Drew Brees fake leading their fantasy squads. Even Matthew Stafford or Cam Newton would be great to have on your team. The way drafts are going, you've got a shot at at least one of them (depending on your draft pick).

    Chances are though, all will likely be gone by the end of the first round (or early on in the second round) and you may not want to spend a high pick on a QB. That means you're taking a quarterback from a lower tier. How low do you go though?

    There are five QBs going in later rounds that waiting for could still mean winning your league, while also allowing you to double-down on the other positions in earlier rounds.

    These aren't exactly "sleepers," a word that's lost all of its aura as fantasy football has become more prevalent with mainstream audiences. These are just players who could have big years and will give you enough points from the QB position to win it all.

Josh Freeman

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    Any way you look at it, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a disastrous season last year. The team quit on coach Raheem Morris and everything fell apart, both offensively and defensively—including QB Josh Freeman.

    Freeman still managed to put up nearly 3,600 YDs and 16 TDs last year though, both numbers that look to jump quite a bit this season thanks to the acquisitions of WR Vincent Jackson and RB Doug Martin. 

    He's also fairly reliable when it comes to holding onto the ball. His INTs did spike from the previous year (six to 22), but he still had four rushing TDs and held on to the ball better in the 2011 season.

    Freeman is probably the riskiest of the five, but he's already being touted as top five by Jackson, for whatever that's worth. Only time will tell which of the past two seasons (2010 or 2011) was the aberration in Freeman's burgeoning career.

    Freeman should be available in the 11th and 12th rounds.

Jake Locker

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    Don't let anyone lie to you: Matt Hasselbeck is done. He had a solid but not spectacular career, and Jake Locker is the heir apparent to the Titans' QB throne.

    Locker saw some playing time in 2011 thanks to injuries to Hasselbeck. While he didn't put up jaw-dropping numbers, he did manage 542 YDs and four TDs over five games, and that was without Kenny Britt doing his thing. Chris Johnson is back (and actually in shape) as well, which should be promising for Locker's ascendancy this season.

    Like Freeman, Locker also boasts some ground appeal, running for one TD in those five games. The total may seem low, but he did rush for 29 TDs in four years at Washington, including 13 in his freshman year.

    There are whispers that the Titan's O-line is one of the best in the league, which will give him plenty of time to throw and room to run.

    Locker will likely be available in the 14th or 15th rounds.

Matt Cassel

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    Oh, Matt Cassel, the latest in a string of backup QBs to cash in big in free agency, only to fall short of the lofty expectations.

    2011 was not a good year for the former back-up to Tom Brady. His third full season as Kansas City's starter was cut short by injury, but even in the time he was playing, he wasn't playing that well. Of course, losing Jamaal Charles and Tony Moeaki didn't help things.

    Cassel's banner year was 2010, when he threw for 3,116 YDs and 27 TDs. In 2012, he hopes to return to that level of play and there are a few things that should help.

    First, Jamaal Charles is back and ready to go. What's more, he's got a new running buddy in Peyton Hillis, both of whom should wreak havoc on opposing defenses, giving Cassel time to throw.

    Second, Todd Haley is out and Romeo Crennel is in. Crennel's defensive mind will likely have Cassell as more of a game manager than taking charge.

    Yes, "game manager" are two words you hate to see in fantasy, but this could be a boon for Cassel. He won't be expected to lead them team offensively, which could help him relax.

    Third, Jonathan Baldwin. Dwayne Bowe isn't exactly turning into the No. 1 WR everyone thought he would be, but he's still a great pass-catcher. And assuming Baldwin has grown up a little and is ready to play, his talents will give Cassel another weapon on the outside.

    Throw in TE Tony Moeaki (also injured last year) and Cassel actually has a talented trio to throw to.

    You can likely grab Cassel in the 14th round or so.

Joe Flacco

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    If there's any QB in the league who doesn't get the respect he deserves, it's Joe Flacco. The man has been Mr. Reliable every season he's been in the league, earning him the nickname Joe Cool.

    He's got an almost impeccable playoff record, but he's starting to get the knock on him that he can't win the big one. Although—in all fairness—if either Lee Evans makes that catch or Billy Cundiff makes that kick, we could be having a different conversation.

    Flacco throws one of the best deep balls in the game. Torrey Smith now has another year under his belt, and he's incredibly fast. I think you know where this is going.

    Flacco has to be loving life now, with a receiving corps that boasts Smith and Anquan Boldin, as well as up and coming TEs Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta.

    Oh. And did I mention Ray Rice?

    The top three RB in just about every draft is a beast who can wreak havoc for teams on both the ground and through the air. He's a game-changing player that Flacco will look to often, giving him yet another weapon to use.

    The Ravens also still have Matt Birk at center. While he's a little long in the tooth, he's going to ensure that the O-line stays in line and protects Flacco, giving him a cushy pocket to work from.

    This is a player who's thrown for 3,600-plus YDs and 20-plus TDs in each of the last three seasons. This could be the breakout season everyone's been holding out hope for.

    Flacco's position varies wildly, but look for him in Rounds 10-13.

Carson Palmer

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    The Raiders are hoping they've got what it takes to compete in the AFC West. They let Michael Bush go, hoping that Darren McFadden can stay healthy for an entire season.

    They've got a bevy of WRs, headlined by Darrius Heyward-Bey and Jacoby Ford and they've got a solid QB in Carson Palmer, a player they essentially mortgaged their future for.

    Palmer only started 10 games for the Raiders last season and, at first glance, the 16 INTs really stand out. He did have two three-INT games and one four-INT game, meaning he threw nine INTs over the other seven games. It's still not exactly the most endearing statistic you want to see, but it was likely rust more than anything.

    On the flip-side, he racked up 2,753 YDs and 13 TDs, both numbers respectable enough to at least merit keeping an eye on. He's back and looking forward to his first full season as a Raider, which means his numbers should improve dramatically.

    He's not going to be a top tier QB again, but don't be surprised if he finishes the year in the top ten.

    Palmer looks to be obtainable in the 10th round.